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2020 Oly Qualifier
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BBSR OQ: Smooth sailing for India over Africa (6/15/2019)
--s2h Team
Unbeaten Manpreet Singh's crack outfit won the FIH Series Finals today at Kalinga Stadium in style, giving no elbow room for the challenger South Africa. Showing improvement match after match, India won fifth match on the trot today to annex the title. The manner in which it overcame the tenacious Japan in the semis yesterday (7-2) and the magnificent way it set aside the challenge of fighters in the African Champions today (5-1), infuse confidence on the new Indian outfit. Six years ago too India won a Olympic Qualifier on home soils (Delhi) unbeaten all along albeit being a six-nation. undefined

After having achieved their purpose yesterday with semi-final success, India and South Africa had nothing special to achieve today in the final, except that any title win will always adds to a team's morale.

Indian team in fact needed a heavy dose of morale booster. After all, the top ranked Asian team in the FIH hierarchy India flopped at Asian Games where it was top billed to win the title, and with that, like in the previous occasion, directly qualify for the Tokyo Olympics. But it happen. Semifinal defeat at the hands of Malaysia spelt doom for India. undefined

Right earnestly the Men's team is making amends.

Today's marvellous victory is a proof. Though qualified for the tricky 14-team Olympic Qualifier, India is still far off from avoiding Chile-like disaster.

Relaxed after winning the semis, which served all the purpose of the event, India played a cool but productive brand of hockey. The much needed precision in set plays, which was lacking in a bit in Bhubaneswar, was all present today for all the see. The mere fact that four of India's five goals came from penalty corner or stroke situation vouchsafe that India is a precise side.

Varun Kumar set the scoring act on track with a second-minute penalty corner conversion. Experienced Harmanpreet Singh picked up the gauntlet and went about his business in a professional fashion. He struck a brace, one in the 11th minute another in the 25th minute. These three goals coming before half time, took the match away from the visitors.

Ten minutes later, rising star Vivek Prasad Sagar scored the only field goal of the day.

South Africa's consolation goal came through the blade of Richard Paulatz when India already established a formidable 5-0 lead.

Manpreet Singh was adjudged the Best Player of the Tournament.

Naveen Patnaik, who won the State Assembly election for a record fifth term, presented the award to the captain. It carried Rs.1 lack purse.

India also got Fair Play award and its Sagar Prasad the Young Player award.

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